When COVID-19 hit the state, the Klamath County School District immediately formed an Emergency Response Team and met with Klamath County Public Health officials. The team has been meeting ever since, implementing protocols to keep staff and students safe.
“I was monitoring COVID-19 overseas since Jan. 1 and was concerned about preparations if it reached the nation, state, and county,” said Glen Szymoniak, superintendent of the Klamath County School District. “We were on top of this and were able to implement our emergency plan on March 2, prior to the governor declaring a state of emergency.”
As orders from Gov. Kate Brown came down one after the other – first canceling all non-essential school-sponsored activities, then closing schools March 16 through March 31, and finally extending that closure through April 28 – the district’s Emergency Response Team continued to meet. The team is tasked with implementing required actions from the Oregon Department of Education and developing safety protocols for staff returning to buildings, following guidelines on social distancing and group meeting sizes.
In its fourth meeting of the week on Friday, the Emergency Response Team tested a video conferencing platform and updated two members of KCSD’s Board of Directors on the district’s work, including how to provide education during the closure to the more than 6,800 students in its geographically large district. The district has a special COVID-19 Supplemental Education Team that has been meeting since March 11 to determine how to make home-based education happen.
The Oregon Department of Education is discussing what actions need to be taken to accommodate high school seniors. That information will be provided to school districts on Monday, and KCSD will share that with families when it is available. The ODE also is seeking waivers so districts do not need to do state-mandated testing.
The school district is working with community partners to ensure children of essential emergency and health care workers have childcare.
After spring break, the district will continue providing free meals to students – using bus stops to access those who live in rural areas. The free meal program will continue until school resumes. Information on times and locations will be provided on the district’s website at www.kcsd.k12.or.us. The district will release more information on its supplemental education and supported learning plan to families by March 27. Families will receive details on the plan’s rollout during the week of March 30-April 3.
“We have excellence teams working on how best to deliver quality education under these challenging circumstances,” Szymoniak said.